- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This is the end of 911 Mike Tyson. There is no more reason to bully the bully any longer. He finally was exposed for all to see Saturday night by Lennox Lewis at the Pyramid, and there is no reason to pick on a man when he is down even a man who deserves it.
Oh, I'm sure there will be a few more calls to 911 involving Mike Tyson. It won't end well for him, and he knows it. "I know I'm going to blow one day," Tyson said in a 1998 Playboy interview. "I expect the worst to happen in my life."
But for now, a better moniker might be Pathetic Mike or, after Saturday night's performance in the ring, Punching Bag Mike. Iron Mike? He may never have been anything more than the Tin Man.
It was target practice for Lennox Lewis in the ring Saturday night. Tyson did come out and win the first round on all three judges cards. He was active, bobbing and weaving, and landed some left hands. He had Lewis backing up.
But in the second round, Lewis started landing his punishing left jab. And landing it. And landing it. He also landed a right uppercut that nullified Tyson's strategy of bending down to avoid the chopping overhand right. Then Tyson began doing what Evander Holyfield said fighters do when they get hit he stopped fighting. Holyfield's natural style is to hit back, but Tyson's natural style is to stop fighting. As the fight went on, Lewis landed one jab after another, with a right hand thrown in for good measure. Tyson fought less and less until he was little more than a heavy bag for Lewis to work out on.
"He hurt me early, and he just kept pressure on me," Tyson said. "I could take a shot from him, but I just couldn't see every punch."
That's understandable because there were a lot of punches to look for. The Compubox punchstat numbers showed that Lewis landed 193 of 328 punches, a 59 percent connect rate, remarkable for a heavyweight. Tyson landed just 49 of 211 punches through eight rounds, a pathetic 23 percent rate.
People will say that Tyson was gracious in defeat, but even that was bizarre and illustrative of his own pathetic personality. Before the fight, Tyson talked about killing Lewis. "I want to crush his skull," he said. "I want to drive my fist through his brain."
After the fight, Tyson said those words were just hype to sell the fight, but that was delusional. It was bully talk, and what you heard was the talk of a bully who had been beaten, acting like a puppy dog. He kissed Lewis' mother in the ring and had nothing but love for the man who had, in Lewis' words, "disciplined" him. "He knows I love him and his mother," Tyson said. "He knows who I am. He's a magnificent, a prolific fighter, and he should continue fighting. I love him and respect him too much to do something to him.
"There's no way I could ever beat him," Tyson said. "He's just too big and too strong."
Yet Tyson begged for another chance, a rematch, to which Lewis responded, "Anything is possible."
That seems like a ludicrous notion. "I don't think there will be any more fights with Mike Tyson," said Lewis' trainer, Emanuel Steward. "Who are we going to sell it to?"
A good question because this complicated deal between the two cable networks Home Box Office (which has Lewis under contract) and Showtime (which has Tyson under contract) is a two-fight deal. The main component of the deal was that HBO broadcast the pay-per-view from the first fight, while Showtime got the rights for the second pay-per-view broadcast. But it's difficult to imagine a rematch would take place, so it would seem Showtime is out in the cold. However, for Showtime, this deal was put together more for an opportunity to recover its losses than to make money.
Tyson's payday from Saturday night's fight most likely was $20 million, $13 million of which is reportedly heading to Showtime to pay off loans from the network. So Showtime finally will get the money back it invested in Tyson but not much more.
But it will be more than what Tyson will take home after withstanding such a beating. After the taxes are taken out of this payday, Tyson may have just enough to pay off Showtime. Wait, there's more. He owes other creditors, including his former promoter, America Presents, and the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, at least several million dollars. Then there is the divorce from his wife, Monica, and you know that will cost him big time.
There could be some strange and curious developments behind the scenes. Chances are that if he hasn't had contact already, promoter Don King will try to reach out to Tyson and make a sales pitch like only he can make: "Mike, these people ruined you. They destroyed your career. Come back to me, my brother. I can build you back up, Mike, make you a champion again."
In return, all Tyson would have to do is to drop the $100 million lawsuit he has against King, his former promoter. The suit charges King with taking money from the fighter when Tyson was under contract to King. That lawsuit is expected to be heard soon.
Speaking of lawsuits, there will be a lot of them flying around in Memphis. The fight was a disaster at the box office there were 5,000 empty seats in the arena, and many tickets sold at half of face value in the days leading up to the fight. City officials promised businesses streets paved in gold, but those businesses never reaped the rewards. Don't believe the hype you hear from Memphis. The fight never came close to the economic impact city officials predicted, and who knows how much extra it cost the city for police protection.
Memphis officials are talking about being a player and a host of big fights. It's a wonderful city, but they're kidding themselves if they believe it now will compete with Las Vegas, Atlantic City or New York for big fights. Be thankful you survived without anyone being killed. Forget boxing and stick to the Dead Elvis economy.


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